Scientific Publication

Gender norms and the economy: Insights from social research


Feminist economics has taken up the concept of gender norms, most commonly conceived as a constraint on women's voice and gender equality. This contribution examines the concept of gender norms and summarizes key insights from sociology and other social sciences. Norms do not float free: they are materialized in specific domains of social life and are often embedded in institutions. An automatic process of “socialization” cannot explain the persistence of discriminatory norms. Norms change in multiple ways, both in response to broad socioeconomic change and from the dynamics of gender relations themselves. Restructuring of gender orders, and diversity and contradictions in gender norms, give scope for activism. The rich literature on normativity supports some but not all approaches in feminist economics and indicates new possibility for the field.